Being a regular online shopper might make you more comfortable with the process, but it doesn’t necessarily make you any less vulnerable to fraud, says Nationwide's Group Head of Fraud, Stuart Skinner. ‘Savvy-shoppers are just as likely to fall victim to online fraud as first-timers,’ he says. ‘Thankfully, following simple security steps can reduce the risk and help fend off the fraudsters.’
1. Be sure it’s secure
Before you enter your personal or card details, check for:
The padlock symbol in the browser window frame. Be sure that the padlock is not on the page itself, this will probably indicate a fraudulent site.
The web address should begin with prefix ‘https://’, in which the ‘s’ stands for secure.
2. Do your retail research
It’s best to shop from familiar brands, but if you would like to buy an item from a company you haven’t heard of, make sure that you:
Read reviews that other buyers have left
Ask around to see if any family members, friends or colleagues who may have used it before
Get a site rating from free checks like Norton Safe Web
Are wary of offers that seem too good to be true
3. Know when to use credit
Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, paying by credit card can give you free protection on purchases over £100 and up to £30,000 if a supplier breaches the contract or misrepresents the goods or services you’ve bought from them.
You may find that paying by credit card costs a little more than using your debit card, for example when you buy flights, so it’s a good idea to understand when Section 75 applies.
4. Don’t overshare in public
The fact that many hotels, airports and cafés offer free Wi-Fi is a little luxury that’s great for checking the football score or finding a good spot for dinner. Your information will be less secure than on a home network, however, so it’s best to:
Avoid making financial transactions and entering passwords, credit card numbers or other financial information
Turn off file-sharing when connecting to a public network.
5. Choose when to be direct
Avoid paying for goods via direct bank transfer, unless you know the person well or you can confirm that the company is reputable.
6. Be a password pro
Despite warnings from security experts, more than half (55%) of adult internet users admit to using the same password for most sites, according to Ofcom. It’s tempting to go for a couple of easy-to-remember ones, such as family member’s birthdays or your favourite sports team, but to keep passwords strong:
Choose a password that is not traceable to you, for example your best friend’s favourite band or best friend’s maiden name
Consider replacing letters with special characters and using capitals to make it even more difficult to hack
Choose a phrase, quote or line of poetry that you know well and select the first – or last – letter from each word to make a nonsense word
Get Safe Online also recommends avoiding ascending or descending numerical sequences, duplicated numbers or easily recognisable keypad patters (such as 14789).
7. Look after your PC
Run up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer to keep your PC free from malware and other infections.
8. Check your statements
Regularly checking your bank statements can help you to pick up on signs of fraud early, particularly as criminals often make a small withdrawal or purchase to test what they can get away with.